UC Santa Cruz’s Barn Theater was packed last weekend with families, friends and students joining together to support and cheer on the dancers of “Dance Collisions.” Extra chairs were set up for those who couldn’t find a seat, and latecomers had to be turned away at the door due to lack of seating. This was during one of the three shows the performance held over the weekend.
“Dance Collisions,” an annual student-directed and choreographed performance affiliated with Barnstorm, was held Nov. 9-10 and consisted of 10 different dance pieces on each day.
The program’s dance styles included modern, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and lyrical, with each choreographer adding their own flavor to their piece.
Director and fourth-year Angela Chambers said she wanted to work with choreographers for the show who had different experiences within the dance community.
“It’s a really awesome process,” Chambers said. “I chose to direct it because as a director, it’s not really an audition to get dancers in the show. I wanted to be able to let people who haven’t choreographed before and people who have a lot of experience choreographing be a part of the show.”
After looking for choreographers over the summer, “Dance Collisions” held its first audition in October. This gave the crew a short amount of time to put the production together.
“I’m really proud of myself and my dancers because we pulled together a really sick show in five weeks,” Chambers said. “We only had half as long as normal dance shows to pull off a full production, and we did it.”
Choreographer and second-year Jenna Kincaid also said she wasn’t used to the short amount of time they had to put the dance numbers together. Her piece, complemented by Fall Out Boy’s “Light Em Up,” was a fast paced mix of hip-hop and jazz, displaying impressive stunts such as a six-person pushup.
“A lot of people think, ‘It’s just dance, it’s not a sport,’” Kincaid said, “but it is a sport, and it takes a lot of athletic ability. I like to prove to people this is a sport, and when I’m stressed out or there’s something going on in my life, dance is how I release what’s going on. I can get over what happened just through movement.”
Choreographer and third-year Zoe Kirsh said dancing is important because it speaks to the soul in a way mundane activities do not. The piece she choreographed, “Tesselate,” showcased modern dance incorporated with hip-hop, and was characterized by its hard-hitting movements alongside flowing, liquid motions. Kirsh said the motion of the piece made triangles with both the dancers and the audience.
“[Choreographing] gives me a whole new perspective on dancing, creating movement and being involved in a way that just dancing can’t give you,” Kirsh said. “It’s really powerful to see a concept of yours build from the ideas in your head to your dancers executing it on stage. It’s really magical.”
Putting together the show in about five weeks was stressful and busy, but worth it, Kirsh said.
“In a funny way, dance is the only thing keeping us sane,” Kirsh said. “Although it was hectic and crazy and there were times when I couldn’t see the end of the tunnel, we made it. We turned it into a really successful show we were all incredibly proud of and grateful to be a part of.”